Across the countryís plains

sealed boxcars are carrying names:

how long will they travel, how far,

will they ever leave the boxcar Ė

donít ask, I canít say, I donít know.


The name Nathan beats the wall with his fist,

the name Isaac sings a mad hymn,

the name Aaron is dying of thirst,

the name Sarah begs water for him.


Donít jump from the boxcar, name David.

In these lands youíre a name to avoid,

you're bound for defeat, youíre a sign

point out those who must be destroyed.


At least give your son a Slavic name:

heíll need it. Here people count hairs

and examine the shape of your eyelids

to tell right from wrong, ďoursĒ from ďtheirs.Ē


Donít jump yet. Your sonís name will be Lech.

Donít jump yet. The timeís still not right.

Donít jump yet. The clattering wheels

are mocked by the echoes of night.


Clouds of people passed over this plain.

Vast clouds, but they held little rain Ė

just one tear, thatís a fact, just one tear.

Dark forest. The tracks disappear.


Thatís-a-fact. The rail and the wheels.

Thatís-a-fact. A forest, no fields.

Thatís-a-fact. And their silence once more,

thatís-a-fact, drums on my silent door.


Wisława Szymborska†† †††††††††††

(from Calling Out to Yeti 1957)